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The Body's Specific Skin Needs

By: Joan Tomeu
Posted: June 28, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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It is common for clients to invest in quality products for their faces, while not paying much attention to the needs of the skin on their bodies. This is especially true of cleansing and hydrating products. Additionally, corrective treatment products for addressing specific skin conditions, such as hyperpigmentation or acne, are much more commonly purchased for the face and not the body. Clients working to clear skin conditions on the body typically experience significantly faster results when using specialized body products and treatments.

Cleansing. Bar soaps typically used on the body can often have a pH of as high as 10, leading to irritation and dryness. Because the skin on the body is already dry, cleansers designed for use on the body with a balanced pH (4–6) should be used. To combat specific conditions, targeted treatment ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide for breakout-prone skin, and kojic and azelaic acids for hyperpigmentation, can be incorporated into cleansers. Cleansing products containing active ingredients are only beneficial when the ingredients are left in contact with the skin long enough to take action: approximately 2–5 minutes. One exception to this rule is benzoyl peroxide for acne; its action is instant, and it can be rinsed off the skin without a waiting period.

Hydration. Daily skin hydration is imperative for the body, as it is with facial skin. Body-specific hydrators are often heavier than facial moisturizers and may contain corrective ingredients, such as lactic acid or phytic acid, as well as humectant and occlusive agents. Humectant ingredients attract water moisture and occlusive ingredients that hold it within the skin. Recommended humectants include lactic acid, panthenol, urea, sodium hyaluronate and glycerin. Good choices for mild occlusion are jojoba extracts, squalane, silicones, shea butter and botanical oils.

Anti-inflammation. Because inflammation is a common contributing factor to many conditions on body skin, anti-inflammatory ingredients are important additions to products designed specifically for this use. BHA, aloe vera, bisabolol and evening primrose seed oil are all beneficial options for soothing skin on the body.

Exfoliation. Gentle exfoliation is important for keeping the skin on the body free of impaction. This exfoliation can be mechanical, using polyethylene or jojoba beads, although ground fruit pits and other jagged media should be avoided because they can cause excessive irritation. Chemical exfoliation is also highly effective for treating most of the common skin conditions of the body. TCA, AHAs and resorcinol are good choices. Lactic acid exfoliates while simultaneously providing hydration, reducing bacteria and inhibiting pigment deposition. Salicylic acid (BHA) and resorcinol reduce the impacted stratum corneum common to skin on the body. This minimizes impactions and calms inflammation, which is beneficial for eczema, acne and keratosis pilaris.

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